Investment into expanding Lowveld agricultural production will cut imports and accelerate the attainment of Vision2030 goals, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga said yesterday at Hippo Valley Estates in Chiredzi after touring part of the winter maize crop being grown by Tongaat Hulett Zimbabwe.
Under a US$40 million investment called Project Kilimanjaro, Tongaat and local financial institutions are clearing of 4 000ha of virgin land for cane fields for allocation to indigenous outgrowers as part of the empowerment drive.
Vice President Chiwenga paid tribute to Tongaat for investing in food security, which allows the country to preserve foreign currency by reducing the food import bill.
"We are our own liberators in terms of economic development and why should we export our sweat when we have the land and the water. It's better for local companies to grow the maize we import and then we buy from them," he said.
"We need to create jobs for our people here. It's not going to be easy, but let us meet the challenges head-on. We no longer want more exports of jobs by importing food to develop other countries' economies.
"Forex should never be used to import food and Vision 2030 must be brought forward. We must achieve the vision of an upper middle income economy before 2030."
Water bodies around the country should be optimally used to produce food for the nation to achieve food sufficiency and end perpetual imports of food.
Government was this year going to make sure all beneficiaries under the Command Agriculture scheme get inputs by September 1.
"CBZ should expedite distribution of inputs because we want our farmers to have inputs early this year so that they get to work when rains fall. Failure is not an option," he said.
Farmers involved in winter maize production would get priority from Government in the allocation of fuel.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Prof Mthuli Ncube said Vision 2030 goals were attainable if key sectors of the economy such as agriculture perform exceptionally. He assured Treasury's readiness to continue assisting farmers to have access to cheap and affordable inputs to improve productivity.
Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza urged cane farmers and Tongaat to resolve their differences amicably while Energy and Power Development Minister Fortune Chasi assured farmers of uninterrupted power supplies.
Tongaat managing director Mr Aiden Mhere said his firm would continue to work closely with Government to help the nation achieve food security.
VP Chiwenga and his delegation that also included Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo and Minister of State for Masvingo Ezra Chadzamira later toured Chilonga Irrigation Scheme where pumping of water to the scheme has started after Government injected funds for the scheme's revival.